Serverless computing frameworks are widely regarded as the next big thing in enterprise IT because they are based on an event-driven architecture that makes servers, storage and networking resources dynamically available as needed using a programming construct known as functions. But DevOps teams are challenged in finding a way to orchestrate all those functions in concert with one another.
To enable the orchestration of those functions, Platform9 has added support for Fission Workflows to its instance of a serverless computing framework. Platform9 CEO Sirish Raghuram says Fission Wokflows will make it possible for IT organizations to craft complex applications made up of thousands of functions.
On the one hand, serverless computing frameworks promise to make DevOps easier by eliminating the need to provision infrastructure every time a workload exceeds whatever amount of capacity that has been assigned to it. On the other hand, attempting to manage what could easily become thousands of functions in an IT environment is likely to make DevOps even more challenging than it is today. While not a new concept, Raghuram says Fission Workflows provides IT organizations with a familiar construct for managing functions.
Benefits of Fission Workflows include an ability to reuse functions as well as being able to upgrade entire related sets of functions all at once. There are also fault-tolerant capabilities that make possible to recover and restart a workflow in the event of an infrastructure failure.
Platform9 is specifically making the case for a serverless computing framework based on Kubernetes clusters that can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud. Platform9 also provides support for containers on an instance of Kubernetes, and Raguham says the company expects that IT organizations will mix and match containers and serverless computing frameworks as they see fit. For example, a container might invoke a function via an API call to run a stateless process while Docker containers are employed for all the stateful processes that require access to primary storage, he says.
Raguham notes the trouble with serverless computing frameworks put forward by cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) is that they lock an IT organization into a specific platform instead of taking advantage of a portable cluster technology such as Kubernetes, which is backed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). Kubernetes also provides the added benefit of a common platform for both containers and serverless computing, he says.
It’s still early days for the use of serverless computing frameworks in the enterprise. Nevertheless, it’s clear they will need to be managed from a DevOps perspective alongside cloud-native applications running on containers and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments and legacy applications running on virtual machines and bare-metal servers. Given the fact that none of these architectures is likely to supersede any of the others anytime soon, IT organizations would be well-advised to start crafting a DevOps strategy now on the assumption that the overall IT environment is about to become even more complex.